The idea behind Salt’s Cure is a noble one: every meal is made from ingredients grown and raised in California, all of which are carefully butchered and crafted in-house. And it's not just a tagline here; it's a way of life for the young chef/owners. The challenge of being so noble and sticking to their guns is that the menu ends up being extremely limited. But for the most part, that's a glass half full because the restaurant is so tiny. Really, it's just a kitchen closet with a few tables and chairs gathered around the grill. You can always count on a great burger. And there's almost always a good steak of some sort. Black kale, mashed potatoes, grilled corn...you almost expect to see an old red farm truck parked out front. It's best to get there early because the dish you really want will surely sell out before the night is over.
Simply put, Crossroads is a high-end vegan restaurant for carnivores. Plant-based chef to the stars Tal Ronnen—he counts Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres as clients—is reinventing meat-free meals with flavorful and imaginative dishes that are reasonably priced and served in a cozy, white-tablecloth Melrose Avenue dining room that have been drawing in a surprisingly older, suit-clad crowd. Grab one of the comfy round booths and start with one of the signature small plates: Artichoke oysters ($8) layer five artichoke leaves with pureed artichoke, a fried oyster mushroom, kelp caviar and a drizzle of yellow Bearnaise, and crumbly rounds of "crab cakes" ($10) are packed with diced hearts of palm, apples and beets. Do they taste like the real thing? Not exactly, but the dishes are fun, flavorful and pair well with the seasonal list of well-made libations mixed with ingredients such as Sriracha bitters and passion fruit. Both the thinly shredded sweet and tangy kale salad flecked with currants and pine nuts ($6) and the Farinatta ($10), an arugula salad dressed with a sun-dried tomato pesto over a thin earthy and umami-rich pancake made from chickpea flour and roasted wild mushrooms, are standout plates. For a more substantial dish, try the lasagna ($14) made with layers of slightly overcooked noodles, creamy almond ricotta cheese, and a faux tomato marinara doctored with wheat protein that could have benefitted from an extra pinch of salt. Vitals What to eat: Chef Ronnen explai
When you first step into Goldie's, you can’t help but love the space: A raised garage door separates a lovely patio from the pretty interior dining room, and, as is for farm-to-table restaurants these days, there’s lots of wood. Both inside and out, you’ll find wood panels, wood shelves, wood tables, even neat stacks of logs shelved in a back wall, as if you were in the middle of Iowa preparing for the winter rather than the middle of LA perusing a distinctly Californian-style menu. The fare here is both expected and not: There's the almost obligatory kale salad ($12), but also burrata with cubes of watermelon grilled just enough and toasted milk powder that lends a welcome crunch ($14). Some flavors, though, like the roasted carrots with buttermilk and spiced pistachio ($10), don’t quite come together; still, you appreciate the effort. The bigger downside, really, is the price: While plates can be comfortably shared by two, you'll have to order at least four to feel sated. And that can add up. Vitals Eat this: The menu is separated into four sections, Raw, Veg, Small Plates and Large Plates, and you’ll do well to order one from each section. The sea bass ($24) and other seafood choices are strong, and grilled dishes take advantage of the kitchen’s wood and coal-burning oven. Drink this: Goldie’s has a very well-stocked bar with excellent cocktails, several of which follow the season as faithfully as the food fare. Try the Battery Park ($14), a sort-of Old Fashioned made with
DTLA's newest culinary concept is a family affair with father-son team chef Pawan and Nakul Mahendro' mash up of old and new, traditional and modern, East and West at this Indian gastropub. A welcome change to Downtown and the growing intersection of 2nd and Main streets, traditional and updated Indian street foods and favorites are served in a design-forward space. White tiles and black chalkboard walls meet color block banquettes and a central art piece inspired by the colors, while vintage Bollywood posters and aluminum tumblers straight from the motherland add authentic flair. Sit at the bar, upstairs or along the sidewalk and take in the Bollywood movies projected on the wall as small plates arrive at the table. Start with street cart classics such as addictive 2-Bite Fish Fry ($9); crunchy papri chaat chips($7) served with masala-flavored potato and chickpeas, yogurt and tamarind and mint chutneys; or fried samosas—choose traditional potato and peas and not-so-traditonal short rib and pineapple. Beef eaters can fill up on the Badmaash Burger ($11) gussied up with mango jam and spiced mayo on a brioche bun and Holy Cow! Keema Pow ($10) of beef, pea, tomato stew served with mini brioche buns, while old schoolers can opt for butter chicken ($12), good ol' saag paneer ($11) and tandoori oven faves like naan ($3) and Badass Chicken Tikka ($12). Thirsty? New World wines by the glass and bottle and a limited, yet impressive, selection of CA-local beers by the bottle and can. T
Review When the "artisan taquería" Tinga opened in a tiny space on La Brea in 2010, it was an interesting distraction from the street tacos reigning supreme at that moment: Tinga’s tacos were unabashedly more refined, upscale and cheesier than almost anything off the most popular trucks, with the prices to match. Three years later, Tinga's expression of the taco has not only persisted, but it also has just expanded westward. Tinga's Santa Monica outpost is a sprawling, multi-room funhouse: There's a bar everywhere you turn (three in total), all of which flank a beautiful courtyard that makes for great patio dining. As for the food, the tinga here ($7.75 for two) doesn't quite match the intensely flavorful version at Guisados, and the tacos al pastor de Jerry ($8.75 for two)—named after chef Jerry Baker, pineapple-marinated pork is topped with pineapple-lime salsa and Scotch bonnet peppers—won’t replace your love of Leo's. But that's almost all besides the point: When the atmosphere of a parking lot won't do, Tinga fills in nicely, especially on a side of town that could use more great taquerias, artisan or otherwise. Vitals Eat this: In addition to tacos, try the Elote Especial ($5.25), a take on the classic Mexican-style corn, with grilled sweet corn off the cob, a kick of lime, crema, chili and poblano purée. Drink this: With three well-stocked bars, there’s everything here from frozen margaritas—try the Dirty Hor-chata, spiked with espresso and rum ($10)—to creative cock
Karen Hatfield follows up her fine dining Hatfield's with a casual bakery and cafe that serves the breakfast and lunch crowd with morning pastries and sandwiches all on housemade bread. Order at the register and take a seat at the lofty outdoor patio. Late afternoon sweet seekers—the sticky bun is a must—are rewarded with pastries that are half off at 4:30pm.
Alma is small restaurant next to a big strip club, down the street from the future location of the Ace Hotel and, with it, the continuation of the so-called revitalization of the Broadway Corridor. And that, in a nutshell, is Alma: On the cusp of today and tomorrow, it's not so much the restaurant of the moment as it is likely a restaurant of the near future when farm-to-table will be less a concept and more a reflex, the response to 2012's excesses—fried bacon, fried Brussels sprouts, et al.—will be thoughtful restraint and diners will be equally wowed by smoked duck breast as by crisp pears and sprouted peanuts that accompany it. Chef Ari Taymor combines hyper-seasonality with almost confounding modernism that may look odd on paper but works startlingly well in execution: That duck, for example, is finished with a small cupful of coffee, poured over the dish at the table. You might look on skeptically as coffee and duck fat swirl together, but you'll give it a go and take a bite. Time will stop as you try to decipher exactly what astounding flavors you're tasting. You'll figure it out: It tastes like 2013. Vitals Eat This: Alma's short menu is extremely dependent on the season and what obscure ingredients the restaurant may unearth, so the kohlrabi that accompanies tonight's hanger steak ($26) may be replaced by another vegetable from the cabbage family next week. That said, start with the airy chicken liver mousse ($9), served with toasts slathered with a subtly sweet date
The Boyle Heights taco institution, Guisados, launches into the new year with a second taqueria in Echo Park. Handmade tortillas are made to-order and filled with the house signature (hence, its namesake) braised goodness. Snag a table on the outdoor patio or sit inside to watch the kitchen in action as you dig into the mouthwatering tacos ($2.50)—we like the moist tinga de pollo, rich and juicy mole poblano and flavorful cochinita pibil topped with spicy red onions—washed down with refreshingly tart jamaica aqua fresca or creamy, spiced horchata. Can’t decide what to order? The six-taco sampler ($6.99) offers two-bite tastes, while spice fanatics can’t miss the chiles torreados—it’s muy caliente.
Very few restaurants aim for, little less achieve, the level of grace exhibited nightly at Providence. While this hushed, white-tablecloth restaurant is based around seafood, it’s really much more than a fish palace. It’s one of the finest restaurants on the West Coast. Fish just happens to be its primary muse—from farm-raised sustainable caviar to Dungeness crab, Maine lobster, abalone, geoduck clams, Spanish octopus, Santa Barbara spot prawns and wild, line-caught Atlantic striped bass. The lobsters are strictly females weighing in at precisely one and a half pounds, because chef Michael Cimarusti is just that sort of perfectionist. There’s always a prime rib-eye steak or an incredible milk-fed veal thrown into the mix as well. Bonus: Providence serves lunch only on Fridays, and it’s one of those Champagne lunches you’ll be reminiscing about for the rest of the year.
Don’t try to walk into Bestia without a reservation. As the most talked about (and as a result, packed) restaurant at the moment, securing a table at least a week in advance is a good idea. And even then, you might have to wait for a table. The up side: The bar is a happening place to be not only for dinner but also for drinks with mixologist Julian Cox behind the seasonal libations. It seems like most everything that restaurateur Bill Chait touches turns to gold—places like Sotto, Picca and Short Order, and, now, Bestia, another white-hot hit. Ori Menashe, a longtime Angelini Osteria chef, is the brains behind Bestia’s thoughtful, ingredient-driven Italian menu that doesn’t shy too far away from California. Menashe’s house-cured salumi is superb, especially atop a puffy pizza with ricotta, charred Brussels sprout leaves and chili oil. Housemade spaghetti tangled together in a sea urchin tomato sauce was both creamy and balanced and a stew of braised pork sausage and veal ribs was comforting enough to evoke nonna's. Perhaps one of the Bestia’s best kept secrets is wine steward Maxwell Leer—he joins the restaurant by way of the Tasting Kitchen and the Bazaar—whose strength is selecting obscure wines from boutique producers around the world that you’ve likely never heard of. Don’t be surprised if he tries to pour you an orange wine or a dry Sherry with dinner. Go with it. To describe Bestia as a brick bunker isn’t intended to insult. The wide open restaurant, defined by walls
Leave it to Mark and Jonnie Houston, the twins behind Harvard & Stone, La Descarga and Pour Vous, to conjure up another uniquely-LA affair involving craft cocktails, performances (burlesque acts, tightrope walkers) and live music. Once past the smartly-dressed chaps holding court over the door (and behind door number 1902), prepare to be enamored as you descend into old Hollywood. The impressively restored Victorian home is outfitted with elegant dark wood paneling, red velvet tufted banquets, café seating and ample space that spills out onto a garden-style courtyard illuminated by two positively baroque fireplaces, which burn even in the thick of summer. And appearances are everything here, so patrons should adhere to a classy dress code. Vitals Good for: Stepping out of the 2000s and into the 1900s, to indulge “all your pleasures,” from sipping pre-Prohibition era craft cocktails, taking in mesmerizing tightrope and sexy burlesque acts, to picking out little treasures from a “gift shop.” Big fishes sporting tailored suits and slick hair who want to impress all the little fish can reserve a spot upstairs with a private bar and bottle service, while partygoers in groups down below indulge in punch bowls (gin, rum or vodka-based for $300 plus, per bowl), as well as reasonably priced craft beer and coupés filled with elevated swill. The scene: The party starts late, and if you’re not on the list, you better arrive early and make nice with the doorman. Inside, well-versed bart
The idea behind the new intimate Sayers Front Room bar that serves as a buffer between the bustle of Hollywood and the semi-exclusive atmosphere of one of LA’s best live-music venues, is the breaking of barriers—attracting more neighborhood locals to stop by for wood-fired pizza (go for Green Goddess, pesto, spinach, arugula, pickled onions and burrata, $12) and a list of signature cocktails prepared by attractive, friendly staff. Housed in the former Papaya King space and richly outfitted with plush leather banquets, black-art deco walls interrupted by in-set guitars on display, gives way to a dramatically lit V-shaped bar that edges into the room, giving patrons a taste of what to expect on the other side of the curtain where impromptu celebrity musician sets have been known to take place. Tucked into one end of the bar is a flat screen TV, which is reflected in the adjacent mirrors, lending that unmistakable blue-hue and game-day vibe to an otherwise elegant space, which seems a little out of place. The old adage of, “something for everyone” is surely the inspiration for this blunder. Vitals Good for: Even if you’re not planning on taking in a music show stop in for a cocktail before or after dinner or meet a friend and share some of their tasty bar snacks (try the generously portioned Cheese Board for $11 or Hand Cut Fries for $7), plus there’s always the potential for a celebrity sighting. Bring a date or come early with friends for some pre-music lubricant before pass
Review Before entering PettyCash Taquería, you may note "RIP Playa" tagged right outside the door; this would be a nod to the Beverly Boulevard space's previous occupant, John Sedler’s Playa. Save for that reminder, though, you may fail to recognize its old self: Gone are the dim lighting and the intimate tables. Instead, the bright, open space is filled with graffiti dancing on the walls, communal tables and, as is fashionable for painfully cool places these days, very loud music. This is PettyCash—Mexican street food as reinterpreted by Los Angeles chef Walter Manzke (Bastide, Church & State). Crispy Brussels sprouts are nicely amped-up by Morita-cauliflower crema ($9), a beautiful ceviche negro made with mahi mahi, squid ink, mango and peanuts ($14), and, of course, tacos, at about $4 each, are filled with ingredients such as Berkshire pork, grilled octopus and nicely marinated al pastor. Overall, what you have is truly an upscale taqueria, and quite a good one at that, though its name does make one suspect there’s as much irony at work here as there is homage being paid to Tom and Johnny. Vitals Eat this: The pig ear nachos ($12) are delicious, with crispy strips of pig ear layered with the tortilla chips, a subtly spiced crema poblana and a perfectly soft-boiled egg ties this ultimate party food together. And while you probably can’t go wrong with any of the tacos, the tacos dorados ($4)—potato tacos, rolled, fried and served with avocado, tomatillo and cotija cheese—w
The dawn of the new Black Cat is upon Silver Lake. In the space of a former bar of the same name, this upscale, polished gastropub makes its debut courtesy the team behind the Village Idiot. The long, dark wood bar and adjacent cocktail-table seating is perfect for pre-dinner drinks and romantic cocktailing; an attractive, attentive staff donning dark jeans, collared shirts with grey fitted vests, serve up nightly punch specials ($5 per glass) from pristine and elegant silver punch bowls as well as an array of bottled craft beers, wines by the glass and craft cocktails. For a dinner and drinks outing, the front room is warm and inviting—architectural details fine moldings grace an off-white ceiling and comfy leather banquettes line the walls of the dining room for a cozy-sophisticated, pre-war feel. Vitals Good for: Eastsiders can put on a sharp jacket, elegant dress, and have a civilized dining and imbibing experience without making the trek to the Westside. Late night dinner—the kitchen doesn’t close until midnight and the bar stays open until 2am—and a wide selection of wine, spirits and beer means everyone will be happy here. The scene: Curious locals drop in to scope out the revived space for the first time and chat it up with the bartenders. Ask about housemade spirit infusions. Currently it’s fig-infused Four Roses bourbon; try it mixed with Fernet and Orange Bitters in the Half Flight ($12). The playlist: Background jazz and groove set the atmosphere. The bartender sa
This is the Hollywood good old boy’s pub you’ve been waiting for. Owners Jared Meisler and Sean MacPherson (Il Covo, Roger Room) have transformed the former dive into a spacious country tavern where grand iron chandeliers and wall lamps illuminate British paraphernalia on the walls, red leather booths and two dark wood-paneled bars and dining room. A friendly and helpful staff serve up a full bar of beer, wine, spirits and a stellar selection of specialty cocktails pair perfectly with a menu of elevated pub fare for vegans, locavores and omnivores alike. Chef Ralph Johnson, formerly of NYC’s gastropub the Spotted Pig, brings organic, local ingredients to a menu of pub favorites. Opt for Mary’s Vinegar Chicken ($19) or a Worcestershire aioli-smothered burger ($15), both served with "chips", thrice cooked and possibly the tastiest this side of the pond. Vitals Good for: Bring a date for drinks and supper in one of the booths. Singles can drop in after the dinner bell and hold up at the back bar. Take advantage of daily happy hour from 4-6pm, which sees reduced prices on their specialty cocktails, red and white wines, bar snack and well drinks. The scene: Couples and larger groups fill the front bar and dining room most nights of the week. This is a social crowd and if heads are hung low, it’s because they’re reading Facebook feeds and checking in on Foursquare. The playlist: A mix of British pop and American rock, from the Beatles to the Black Keys, are on the playlist, while
A complete remodel from owners Beau Laughlin and Brett Cranston (the Churchill, Clover) reveals a fresh feel and upgrades galore—a spacious white marble-top bar, comfy new industrial-craft stools, newly upholstered banquettes and Edison lighting—to the Hudson’s lofty, wood-beamed, homey space. New seasonally appropriate cocktails have arrived as well—ten quaffs of craft spirits offer plenty of fresh citrus, herbs and warm-weather fruits. If you’re lucky enough to have Jenn or Jason behind the bar, they maintain great conversation while whipping up delicious drinks. There are also eight draft beers, 11 bottle selections ($4-$8 on tap, $14-$20 for pitchers) and a number of red, white and sparkling wine options by the glass—try a crisp and fruity Rhone Valley 2011 Listel Rosé ($9). Happy hour (4-7pm daily) gets you $3 drafts, well, wine and $6 snacks from chef Conrad Woodul. His gastropub fare satisfies across the board. We love the crispy chicken sliders served on soft mini-buns with aioli and housecured pickles. Vitals Good for: A weeknight dinner, pre-dinner cocktail or nightcap. Call ahead for a table or secure a place at the bar while you wait. Admire an incredible, vintage map of Paris over a pint of draft beer. There's also an unobtrusive TV sandwiched between top-shelf spirits for game-day satisfaction. The scene: A positively attractive WeHo crowd come dressed to be seen, from bespoke suits and crisp, white button-downs to faux-hipster garb (i,e. designer t-shirts and
As LA’s cocktail revolution doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, a stop at Sadie’s Kitchen is a must. The star of the bar—or lounge, rather, located adjacent to the restaurant—is celebrated resident mixologist, Giovanni Martinez. On any given night, loners, couples and groups flock to this Hollywood tavern, hoping to catch Martinez in action, schmoozing and shaking seasonal cocktails on or off the menu. Previously, Martinez served as brand ambassador for Chivas Regal and bartended at Les Deux Estate and Buffalo Club, bringing his cocktail chops to more than satisfy the aficionado and surprise the amateur with drinks that pair well with the restaurant’s New American fare. Grab a comfy seat at the bar—hooray for barstools with backs—or sequester yourself to a banquette and settle in for a good night of people watching. Vitals Good for: Conveniently located, and just far-enough removed, from the Hollywood strip, this is a good stop for dinner and classy cocktails—save the Redbull vodka nonsense for later—before heading out for a night of clubbing. The alfresco courtyard adjacent to the bar offers a comfortable spot for group celebrations as well as some intimate nooks for date nights. The scene: The restaurant attracts a decisively local crowd of business owners and residents, while the bar fills up—expect a full house after 9pm—with groups making a pre-clubbing watering hole visit. Energetic gatherings of girls in slinky dresses show up with boys in tow, sporting a m
There’s something wildly refreshing about The Know Where Bar, a no-frills establishment that bills itself plainly as a place for "beer, wine, sparkling, & small bites." Many of the bars that have opened for business in and around Tinseltown by some of LA's elite bar collectives offer up themed experiences designed to look like bordellos and lived-in mansions (think: No Vacancy, Sassafras). But none of that is present at this wholly minimalist watering hole (on Hollywood Boulevard, no less). Simple, elegant lighting barely illuminates the intimate space—a rectangular room with suede couches, coffee tables and a long, light-wood paneled bar. It's a homey refuge from Hollywood. Vitals Good for: Local residents who live within walking distance and are tired of the craft cocktail scene, lines out the door and over-priced quaffs. Come after dinner with friends for rounds of sangria or late night with just your creative thoughts—who knows, maybe you and your friends will reinvent yourselves as the next generation of beat poets. The scene: Gents sport a jeans-and-T-shirt look, while the gals are fashioned in urban flirty layers of lacy material. Goblets of wine make way for tumblers of beer and sparkling wine and beer cocktails. Groups huddle together and chew the fat about nothing in particular. On weeknights, the place is dead, but it picks up on weekends, and it's likely the quiet laid-back atmosphere won't last long given the location at Hollywood and Wilton Place. The playlist:
Tucked into a small corner of Alcove Café and Bakery, a favorite lunch and dinner spot for Los Feliz locals, Big Bar is a slice of craft cocktail paradise that's seen a recent menu upgrade. Grab a comfy stool—there are 12 total—at the white marble bar for a "New Featured Cocktail." Check the bar's Twitter (@BigBarAlcove) feed for the night's special concoction from spiked coffee-based drinks to ones with tiki flair such as the Port Royal with overproof rum and kola nut. Though these quaffs may not all end up as permanent residents on the menu, talented and friendly bartenders are happy to shake up any drink new, old and otherwise that'll run you $12. Vitals Good for: Alfresco drinks and happy hour. Daily 2pm to 7pm specials make it easy for boozy afternoon lunches with $7 cocktails and finger foods such as delicious Angus beef sliders ($7.95). Don't miss outdoor dinner and a movie screenings every third of the month starting May 20. The scene: Groups and locals order at the bar, then head for the coveted patio under heat-lamps and umbrellas. Inside, lucky stool-squatters sip on cocktails and massive cups of coffee, gearing up for a caffeinated night out on the town. The playlist: Thursday’s Mixtape Mixology night let’s you unwind with themed playlists like "Saxual Healing" and "the Spring Shazam Mix." Drink this: With all the coffee imbibing, the staff finally decided to give everyone's java an upgrade—get your heart rate going with Full Monty Smash ($12) made with Amontill
Following in the speakeasy trend set by the likes of the Varnish and La Descarga, this Koreatown lounge—a low-ceiling, white marble and green-leather banquettes set the "Caesars Club" vibe, perhaps a nod to the former karaoke inhabitant. As expected, the entrance is unmarked: A stylish red door leads to a theatrically disorienting wall of doorknobs and keyholes. Once inside, there’s a small selection of beer and wine—four bottled beers (IPA, Lager, Brown Ale, Triple) and six wines by-the-glass (bubbly, white, rose and red)—but the cocktail program is front and center. Fresh herbs, fruits, simple syrups and torches set the stage for well-made, craft cocktails prepared by attentive and friendly bartenders donning classic white collared shirts and black vests. There’s a limited late-night, food menu from the next door Stall 239—try the Lollipop Chicken Wings ($7) and not-so-date-friendly garlic fries ($3). Vitals Good for: Sipping craft cocktails amongst a celeb contingent, thanks to co-owner/actor Hill Harper. The scene: Weeknights offer more of a "Sinatra" vibe, which we take to mean there’s “No one in the place." The focus is entirely on the art of mixology and serious aficionados can indulge in well-made drinks. Weekends offer a completely different experience with an undoubtedly Koreatown contingent of the young, attractive and well-dressed—dress code is enforced—crowd into banquettes. When the bar gets slammed, an abridged cocktail list replaces the 11 signature cocktails